Lux Interior is not the name of my design firm or a lounge in West Chelsea that got through some inspection. He was the lead singer of the monster punk band The Cramps, and Lux passed away a couple days ago from heart failure. There are lots of great obits if you want to check them out and tons of stuff on Youtube if you want to see the man perform. I saw the Cramps 20-plus times during the 80s, when clubs like Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs were the epicenter of the New York scene. The Cramps were, for me, a reason to be cheerful. Coincidentally, when I was preparing for my DJ gig over at Greenhouse this past Monday, I went through about 10 Cramps songs looking for one to play to a crowd that mostly wouldn’t know them. I couldn’t fit one in, as “Garbage Man” and “Human Fly” don’t have the same meaning unless you can see Lux lunging around on stage, shirtless and sweaty, eating his microphone. The band had no bass player and featured his wife Ivy Rorschach on guitar — she was the hottest thing in punk.
One winter, back in the day, I went to see them at my fathers’ place (a performance-based club in Roslyn, Long island). It was the first place I saw and met The Ramones, but that’s another story. It snowed about 20 inches that day, and there were about 80 people in the audience, but the band played on. Lux dove into the gathering (it certainly wasn’t a crowd), and he body-surfed through all of 30 peeps while they played their hearts out, did a bunch of encores, and hung around with everyone after. I asked Lux why and how they could put on such an enthusiastic show when there were less than a hundred people there to see them. He said, “For you people to come out in this blizzard, you must be real hardcore fans and deserved a great show.”
That logic always stayed with me. Years later when I was running joints and the weather was awful, I worked extra hard to make sure the people had a good time and that they knew how much I appreciated their business. I thought of Lux and how much of his heart and soul he put out there every night. He performed for over 30 years and talked about how great it felt going from place to place, hearing his fans cheer and say how much they loved him. I think the Cramps let loose a hundred white rats at an Academy of Music show to stir things up once. Some panicked and some laughed — it was punk. In the end, his heart gave out possibly because he had given so much of it back to his fans. Lux Interior, I’m going to have a drink to you.